First summer 5K – and what I learned from the older man behind me

Nearly three years ago, I signed up for my first running race. I don’t know HOW many times I read that info page before clicking and registering… but somehow I read “5K” in place of “5 miles.” Yes, I had signed up for my first run – a FIVE MILE run. So I trained, and completed it, then did a 5k… and then nothing for a year. Then I did the 5 miler again, and then the 5k a couple of weeks later… and then nothing. And I gained, and felt badly, and in July I decided to make some changes. My strategy has always been committing and then preparing. I need that fear of failure to push me to get going.

So I signed up for three local-ish races. One was yesterday. It was so humid. I normally run in the mornings – early early, but this race started at 5:30 pm. On our way there, it rained. I knew the terrain was varied during this race, which had me nervous enough to begin.

My oldest and I after the race. I got my lucky number!!

My oldest and I after the race. I got my lucky number!!

I talked through my fears with my girls, ages 4 and 8, and my husband. They reassured me that no one would laugh at me, that my hot pink shorts were in fact very stylish, and that I could totally run this race.  🙂

We arrived to this tiny, tiny village and found the park. There were probably less than 50 racers, some doing the 10k and others walking the 5k with their kids. It continued to rain. I had to use the bathroom one last time and discovered… it was an outhouse. Good thing moms carry hand sanitizer, right??

I didn’t hit the right button on my new-to-me-from-Craiglist Garmin watch, so I didn’t time the race. Bummer. Need to read my instruction manual more!

I started off too quickly, which made me slow down quite a lot that first mile. Note to self: mud makes running on a trail very, very slippery.

It’s funny how fast that self doubt creeps in, isn’t it?

You’re in the back of the pack. Probably only the walkers are behind you.
You’re really just walking fast, not running.
Maybe you should stop and just walk a while.
What were you thinking, signing up for a race so soon?

Luckily my daughters had been asking quite a lot about the race (will you win? How fast are you?), and so I had some statements to counteract all of those thoughts.

I can do this. I AM DOING THIS RIGHT THIS SECOND.
It’s not about winning. It’s about doing the best I can do, right here. The next race is the NEXT race.
Just keep going. 

And about a half mile from the end,one of the finishers doubled back after crossing the finish line. There was an older man behind me – I think it was his daughter. She ran with him and encouraged him the whole way. It was awesome to witness. At the end they sprinted past me. (I had planned to sprint to the end but the finish lane was narrow so I just let them lead.) Two minutes later that man came over to me and told me “good job.” He said, and I quote, “I watched your butt the whole race. I thought I would never catch you!” Now, I don’t think he meant it quite like that, haha – but it made me think of all those negative thoughts I had. He did catch me – though I think I could have beat him in the end, had I tried harder. He finished. He ran the race. We shared congrats and then grabbed some water and free bananas – and cheese curds (when you’re within 10 miles of three dairies, you get the good stuff).

And after reflecting, I realized something – I motivated him. Me, with all of my self doubt.

Next race is August 24 – a color run; I’m so excited.  I know I will be faster, though nothing to write home about.  This time I’m going to remember that while I’m not at the front of the pack, me putting one foot in front of the other is still motivating someone behind me.

Best,
Jen

 

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2 thoughts on “First summer 5K – and what I learned from the older man behind me

  1. Wonderful story of overcoming self doubt! We can always do more than what we initially think is possible as long as we keep faith in ourselves. Thank you for an encouraging story to reflect upon when I am frustrated by my own recovery process from my surgery. I will think of it when I have my own self doubt and push forward even more!! – Kristal

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